The offseason mission for the Dallas Cowboys was to explore options for an explosive playmaker. Multiple names were thrown around, but they ultimately landed on former Houston Texan Brandin Cooks.
Since last December, the Cowboys have been open about free agent Odell Beckham Jr. to Dallas. It carried over into the offseason when Owner Jerry Jones talked about still being interested at the Senior Bowl in February and then the NFL Combine.
Even though the interest has been strong, David Moore reports bringing in Cooks signals the ship for Beckham to land in Dallas finally sailed.
OBJ is unlikely to land with the Cowboys after the Cooks trade
The Cowboys’ flirtation with Odell Beckham Jr. is done.
That’s because the Cowboys landed a receiver who caught their eye before the infatuation with Beckham began. Dallas tried to trade for Cooks before the trade deadline in November, but couldn’t agree upon compensation with Houston. The club remained interested and found common ground with the Texans acquiring Cooks for a 2023 fifth-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick.
After the Cowboys visited with OBJ in December, everything seemed to dry up with potential interest. Even when Beckham held his private workout in Arizona for NFL teams, Dallas didn’t send anyone there to watch the receiver work. That doesn’t mean there was zero interest, but the dots started to connect and helped pivot the Cowboys toward their new wideout.
With Cooks in the mix for a minimal salary, the Cowboys no longer have the capital to sign Beckham because they hope to extend CeeDee Lamb for the long term sooner than later.
Dallas remains interested in retaining Hankins after Fowler signing
As Moore mentions, “the heavy lifting” for Dallas’ free agency appears to be over after re-signing Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch while also giving the franchise tag to Tony Pollard. It felt like Vander Esch and Wilson were the priorities to get done.
Two other Cowboys were named as secondary players Dallas was interested in bringing back. One was re-signed with the team on Tuesday.
Safety Donovan Wilson and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch topped the team’s to-do list on defense. Both agreed to deals in the NFL’s soft opening to free agency, one day ahead of the start to the league’s new year last Wednesday.
Fowler and Hankins were next on that list. The club captured Fowler’s signature first.
Fowler returns as a rotational pass rusher that found the fountain of youth returning to work with Dan Quinn. The nine-year veteran had six sacks on the season and played a massive role in wins over the Los Angeles Rams and Tennessee Titans in 2022.
With No. 56 back along the defensive line, it also allows Micah Parsons to roam around more and not spend as many snaps at defensive end. Parsons was banged up towards the end of the season, so Fowler’s return and Sam Williams entering his second season should help keep the Lion fresh down the stretch.
The remaining player in the Cowboys’ focus right before the draft is defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. In October of last season, Dallas traded for Hankins from the Las Vegas Raiders to plug the leaking run defense from earlier in the year. His presence improved the defense and helped elevate the play of others around him.
Moore makes it clear the Cowboys want Hankins back for another run in Dallas.
Next up: work to re-sign defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, a person with knowledge of the club’s thinking said.
The Cowboys did what they do best—fill all the glaring on the roster before the NFL draft. They need to bolster their interior offensive line, bring in a big defensive tackle, and round out the rest of their special teams unit with a kicker and long snapper. Otherwise, this might be the best offseason for the Cowboys in years.